Transfer in motor sequence learning: Effects of practice schedule and sequence context

Transfer (i.e., the application of a learned skill in a novel context) is an important and desirable outcome of motor skill learning. While much research has been devoted to understanding transfer of explicit skills the mechanisms of skill transfer after incidental learning remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to (1) examine the effect of practice schedule on transfer and (2) investigate whether sequence-specific knowledge can transfer to an unfamiliar sequence context. We trained two groups of participants on an implicit serial response time task under a Constant (one sequence for 10 blocks) or Variable (alternating between two sequences for a total of 10 blocks) practice schedule. We evaluated response times for three types of transfer: task-general transfer to a structurally non-overlapping sequence, inter-manual transfer to a perceptually identical sequence, and sequence-specific transfer to a partially overlapping (three shared triplets) sequence. Results showed partial skill transfer to all three sequences and an advantage of Variable practice only for task-general transfer. Further, we found expression of sequence-specific knowledge for familiar sub-sequences in the overlapping sequence. These findings suggest that (1) constant practice may create interference for task-general transfer and (2) sequence-specific knowledge can transfer to a new sequential context.
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Subjects: training learning motor learning training method training planning training session reaction speed skill theory
Notations: training science
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00642
Published in: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Published: 2015
Volume: 9
Issue: 642
Pages: 1-13
Document types: article
Language: English
Level: advanced